In case you missed it, bumping for your Sunday reading pleasure 🙂
Some stories and deals don’t get their own post, but should get some coverage. Here are some quick takes on stories that caught my eye.
Table of Contents
Featured Trip Report Of The Day:
DDF member Something Fishy booked tickets to Maui during the December 2013 Delta glitch which had first class fares across the country from just $50. With the value of the miles earned, he actually made money on the flights!
The End Of Everything As We Know It? Meh.
Call me an optimist, but I’m tired of the articles saying that we’re at the end of business travel as we know it, or the end of anything else as we know it due to COVID-19.
Some DDF’ers think that “life as we know it will never be the same” or “Travel, Conventions, Dining, Shopping, Work, Theater will not be the same.”
I have a hard time believing that. The vaccines that are being developed are looking extremely promising and there’s no reason to think with the unprecedented sums of money being invested into them that we won’t have widespread availability of an effective and safe vaccine within the next year.
The world survived the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and while it was deadly, it’s merely a blip in the history books. We have been through terrible recessions. I haven’t seen any compelling evidence that the world will never return to life as it was pre-Corona. Sure, it may a couple years to get there, but never be the same?
One of the human brain’s greatest fallibilities is thinking that things will always be as they are now. Whether times are good or bad, nothing stays that way forever. Things also have a way of swinging back to how they were over time. Just ask a typical dieter what happens over time after they lose weight.
The 1918 Spanish flu was far more deadly than COVID19 so far. Other than the tragic death toll that may have reached 100MM, what were the long term changes from that? It was mostly an afterthought until 2020.
I think it’s possible that COVID-19 will accelerate some trends that existed beforehand.
Retail has long been unable to keep up with Amazon and chains are now failing. That would have happened anyway, but COVID-19 certainly accelerated that process.
Rents were falling before COVID-19, and that will be accelerated by COVID-19 as retail moves online and as people move out to the suburbs once again.
People are flocking from the dollar into gold, but that always happens during times of uncertainty and recession. I wouldn’t bet on systemic lasting change away from the dollar.
Travel habits will certainly change for the short term, but corporate travel always slows down during a recession. People are going to need to create trust in person and oversee their production in person. Zoom like products have been said for decades to be overtaking the need to travel and while it may siphon off a small percentage, I don’t see systemic change there either.
Some things will change, such as our relationship with China and companies allowing more employees to work remotely. But overall, I’m quite confident that we will get back to something close to the pre-Corona normal.
Bill Gates, Dr. Fauci: Open Schools
Perhaps one of the toughest public health decisions is whether to reopen schools. How do you weigh the potential for kids being a vector in transmitting COVID-19 (such as in this Georgia camp) against how far behind kids will fall without in-person education? And that doesn’t even factor in parents’ ability to go back to work if the kids are home.
Our local Jewish schools in Cleveland were planning on reopening until the County advised that schools remain closed. There are certainly parents on both sides of the fence, meaning that schools will take heat no matter what they decide. I don’t envy their position.
Bill Gates, who is investing billions into vaccine research and production, has come out in favor of elementary schools opening as he thinks the benefits outweigh the costs. The key part will be keeping teachers safe. Perhaps that means teachers over a certain age, say 50, will have to take a paid leave of absence until the end of the pandemic?
Dr. Fauci has also come out in favor of opening schools, with precautions. It will take a balance to get things right, but hopefully schools will be able to thread that needle.
I’m Enjoying My Brother’s COVID-19 Blog
Early in the pandemic we had a couple of op-eds from JJ’s father-in-law, the Chief of Infectious Diseases at multiple hospitals in Miami, FL.
The country has become a lot more fragmented since then and I’ve enjoyed the blogging of my younger brother Dovid, who is on the COVID front-lines at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital.
His middle ground position on HCQ was very refreshing to read in a time where it seems that everyone needs to take an extreme position. And his follow-up article on being humble and open to learning more was also a gem. Other interesting articles are on the safety of Advil during COVID-19, the new updated guidelines on the contagion period, and the precautions you should take if you wear contacts.
Keep it up Dr. Dave!
Could Existing T-Cell Immunity Help The Case Of Herd Immunity?
The argument for it is that the case numbers have gone way down, despite not doing anything special that isn’t being tried in other states.
The argument against it is that not enough people had COVID-19 to get to herd immunity. Even using my completely ballpark extrapolation of actual cases in NYC, there was only 3.54MM cases out of a population of 8.39MM. 42% of the population seems low for herd immunity.
But then along came this study showing that a whopping 35% of patients that did not have COVID-19 had T-cells that were reactive against the virus!
It’s possible that these patients had previous coronaviruses that can cause common colds and the body retained the ability to fight back.
If that were found to be true among the general population, it would go a long way to explain why places like NYC seem to have herd immunity, as 42% plus 35% would easily be within the realm of herd immunity.
Now, NYC still had a horrific number of deaths and even knowing that herd immunity can be achieved with lower numbers doesn’t mean that it is something worth trying to achieve. And of course none of this is proven, but it’s certainly a fascinating subject to keep an eye on.
Will A New Take On The N95 Solve Critical Shortages?
The US can’t seem to get enough N95 masks that are needed in medical settings.
They’re reusable, more comfortable, and just as effective. We may have outsourced too much manufacturing, but American ingenuity will find a way.
What Happened To The Flu?
Apparently all of the mask usage, social distancing, washing of the hands, and other COVID precautions have meant that the flu is close to non-existent in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter.
Another theory is that the lack of travel has meant people didn’t bring the flu with them from the Northern Hemisphere or perhaps it’s because schools are closed?
People have also been vaccinating for the flu at higher rates than normal, which may also be a factor.
Whatever the cause, add it to the list of silver linings in the COVID-19 era and let’s hope it will stay away for our winter as well.
On Dr. Fauci’s Record Setting Baseball Card And His First Pitch
Dr. Fauci threw out the first pitch at National Park in DC. It didn’t exactly go as planned, but his card set a record for sales anyway:
Now, I’m certainly not one to talk, but the pitch can be charitably described as socially distant. Perhaps he just didn’t want anyone to catch something?
Dr. Anthony Fauci threw out the first pitch before the Nationals-Yankees game. pic.twitter.com/04Tbkh7Voa
— ESPN (@espn) July 23, 2020
A DansDeals commenter pointed out that his pitch made me look like a Cy Young candidate. 😀
While I’m a die-hard baseball fan, I’m just about as far from an athlete as you can possibly get. That’s why I was perfectly happy with my one-bouncer to home plate before game 7 of the 2016 World Series. Being called up to the mound was one of the most thrilling moments of my life.
After all. my primary goal was just not to wind up like this:
Or with the announcer saying this:
United 232 Survivor Yisroel Brownstein Opens Up About Survivor’s Guilt
I’ve written about the United flight 232 disaster several times.
The book, “Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival” tells the dramatic story of the flight and how unaccompanied minor Yisroel Brownstein, a 3rd grader, managed to survive.
The Sioux City Journal interviewed Yisroel upon his first return to Sioux City, more than 3 decades after the accident. It’s a tearjerker and my heart goes out to Mr. Brownstein for the pain that he has been through. It’a hard to imagine being in such a situation and I hope that G-d continues to give him the strength to forgive himself for the survivor’s guilt. I sure hope that he also realizes that he has absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.
I’ve corresponded with United 232 lead flight attendant Jan Brown several times about United and the FAA failing to learn the lessons of that flight with regard to having lap children in carseats. Jan Brown is a legend among United flight attendants, and just mentioning her name has worked to get them to turn a blind eye when needed for the sake of child safety.
A Fascinating Step Back In 1970s Era United
This is a really amazing look at 1978 United Airlines as the industry was undergoing deregulation:
Some things worth noting:
- CEO Richard Ferris would eventually lose his job for trying to juggle too much, as he tried to merge United with Hertz, Westin, and Hilton. It didn’t help that in 1987 he tried to rename the integrated travel company Allegis, which shareholder Donald Trump said sounded like a world class disease.
- United did finally receive permission to stop flying to Ely, NV in 1982. It remains the smallest destination that had daily United jet service.
- This might be the craziest part. At 20:30 into the documentary, a DC-20 with registration N1819U can be seen after encountering a birdstrike. A decade later, that same plane would lose all hydraulic controls in the United flight 232 disaster in Sioux City!
American’s Cleveland General Manager Gets Shutdown
No, he didn’t lose his AAdvantage account. AA’s top employee in CLE got fired for taking a shortcut to bypass TSA before taking a flight and it was all caught on video:
Virgin Atlantic Enters Bankruptcy In The US
Virgin Atlantic has entered Chapter 15 bankruptcy in the US.
I never read past chapter 11, but Business Insider explains that chapter 15 allows multinational companies to coordinate a bankruptcy with assets spread across multiple countries.
Delta owns 49% of the airline, but refused to inject more cash into Virgin.
Virgin has over 1.5 billion in funding lined up, so this will protect the airline’s assets and shed costs before gaining access to those funds.
If you have miles I wouldn’t worry about them. Airlines fiercely protect their miles in bankruptcy court as the mileage program is one of the most profitable parts of an airline. As long as the airline is flying those should be safe.
Buy El Al Meals At Home
You might not be able to fly El Al, but you can still eat El Al!
El Al’s Israeli kitchen is now selling airline meals starting at just 13 shekels per meal:
Wait, nobody actually likes airline meals in the first place? Well at least this way you won’t forget how much you don’t actually like them!
El Al Cocaine Ring Busted
El Al’s head of security abroad has been busted as part of a cocaine ring operated by El Al employees that had the ability to bypass security checks. The coke was allegedly smuggled from South Africa into Israel.
Will this mean that Matmid points will now be valued in cents per kilo instead of cents per mile?
Will We See The Return Of All You Can Fly Deals?
Airlines are in a tough spot. On the one hand they want to make money and this would be a good way to do so. But on the other hand, airlines like JetBlue are promising empty middle seats, and that would be tricky to do with unlimited flying passes. But how long can airlines sustain a promise like that without going bankrupt?
United Will Send Its In-Flight Magazine To Elite Members
In an era where people are staying home, who would know that United stopped having an on-board magazine?
But advertisers still want to reach lucrative top-tier flyers and United Hemispheres will be mailed to all Platinum, 1K, and Global Services elites.
The magazine’s publisher will eat the shipping costs.
The August issue that will be mailed is the first to be published since April and it will feature “Three Perfect Days in Montana.”
I think “Three Perfect Days At Home” might be more apropos.
Déjà Vu All Over Again: Goodbye To BA001
In a byegone era, the BA001 flight number referred due BA’s premier flight aboard the Concorde from London to JFK.
But flying at supersonic speeds was oh so 20th century. Sadly, I never got a chance to fly the Concorde before it was retired. Its final flight was 13 months before I started blogging here.
BA revived flight number 001 for the 32 seat all business class A318 from London City Airport to JFK. The flight had to stop in Shannon to refuel due to London City’s short runway, but passengers were able to go through US customs pre-clearance there and enter JFK as a domestic passenger.
But in an era where business travel isn’t expected to make a full recovery anytime soon, BA is killing its A318 fleet and with it BA001 from London City to JFK.
Hopefully BA will find a suitable replacement one day for BA001.
United Kills ExpressJet
United has many regional carriers that fly its planes with their lower cost regional labor. ExpressJet used to be owned by Continental before they were spun off in 2002. The airline even tried operating independently in the past, before larger airlines changed their contracts to make that impossible.
United owns over 100 ERJ-145, 50 seater Barbie Dream Jets and decided to cut costs by cutting ties with ExpressJet and moving some of their planes over to Cleveland based CommutAir, which will operate all of United’s ERJ-145s.
What will it mean for consumers? Probably not much, but I’d expect them to shrink the ERJ-145 fleet. That’s a mixed bag as the planes are not very comfortable, but they are surely better than the CRJ-200 “devil’s chariot” which unfortunately has not yet been killed off. It also means that some smaller cities may lose service as the ERJ-145 fleet is culled. It has been well over a decade since the plane stopped being manufactured.
Luckily United’s CRJ-550 creation fills the 50 seat market quite nicely and far more comfortably for passengers. I sure wouldn’t mind if they replaced every ERJ-145 and CRJ-200.
Corona Cruises Are Back?!?
Who thought this was a good idea?
Hurtigruten is back to operating cruises. Even in the best of times, cruises are floating petri dishes, but during a pandemic, really?
And so in the least surprising news ever, one of the first cruise ships back at sea had 40 passengers and crew test positive for COVID-19.
They’re still trying to trace passengers from recent trips that may also have been infected.
The ship is now docked in Tromsø, Norway, and future voyages are being cancelled.
Yes, that’s the same city (pronounced Troom-seh) where I almost wound up being stranded on our way to the high arctic in 2016…
Hyatt’s Brutal 2nd Quarter
It’s no surprise that the entire travel industry is hurting, but the quarterly results being released are eye opening.
Here is Hyatt’s press release on their 2nd quarter results, with a loss of $236MM. The full earnings release is here.
Below is a comparison of RevPAR, occupancy, and ADR for Q2 2020 vs 2019.
RevPAR is the revenue per available room. That ranged from a measly $6.27 in revenue per room at Hyatt Centric hotels, down 96.6% from 2019, to $29.81 in revenue per available ultra-luxury Park Hyatt room, down 87% from 2019.
Unsurprisingly the ADR, or average daily rate, is also down, though not nearly as much as RevPAR. I guess the logic is that lowering room rates wouldn’t stimulate more demand, but it would lower the rate paid by those that would stay there anyway.
Perhaps rates will drop further along in the recovery when lower rates will be able to stimulate more demand, which would lower ADR, but help the occupancy and RevPAR numbers.
Hyatt, if you’re trying to stimulate lots of demand to boost all of those numbers, just bring back Faster Free Nights!
Goodbye To The Park Hyatt Mallorca
My brother JJ and DDF member damaxer91 raved about their stays at the Park Hyatt Mallorca and I added it to my bucket list. It was a bargain with Hyatt points and they were great with kosher food accommodations.
And then came COVID-19.
The hotel has been closed since March and won’t reopen until next March at the earliest. And when it does it won’t be part of Hyatt anymore as Park Hyatt will lose its only European resort.
As AsherO would say, I sloozed!
The Travaasa Hana Will Join Hyatt
The Travaasa Hana Resort on Maui has long been on my radar. I’ve driven the ethereal Road to Hana 3 times and it’s always glorious, but it’s also always a rush to get back home.
But the options to stay overnight in Hana are few and far between.
I first read about the hotel from Something Fishy’s Maui trip report when he rented an Airbnb type plane in Hana, only to show up with nobody home and no way in. He had no other option besides the Travaasa Hana.
Here’s hoping the Hyatt redemptions there will be valuable!
Starbucks Will Finally Offer Rewards Without Paying Via Gift Card
Starbucks has long required that you pay via gift card to earn rewards. That way they can keep locking you into reloading your gift card balance and allowing them to borrow money interest free.
They will finally allow rewards to be earned when using other forms of payment. Alas, you’ll only earn half the rewards if you do that.
For my money, I’d rather make the latte myself in my Nespresso machine. Tastes better for a fraction of the cost.
How Much Did Your School Get In PPP Forgiveable Loans?
If you’re feeling curious and/or nosey, you can view the name of every business that received a PPP grant greater than $150,000, along with the approximate amount they borrowed
While many private schools had their payrolls covered by the PPP, I haven’t heard of any that offered refunds yet. I’m not holding my breath 😉
Will COVID-19 Cause The Next Great Aliya Wave?
Based on current applications, Israel figures that they will absorb 100,000 new olim due to COVID-19.
Israel’s own COVID-19 response has been mixed, but people appear to be inspired to make the leap in situations like this.
Is the craziness in the world impetus for you to make Aliya?
Discovering the Real Resting Place of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev
Chabad.org has a fascinating story on how the true burial place of the famed Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Berdichever was hidden and eventually forgotten. Thanks to the local shluchim using the travel downtime to add heating, its real location was finally discovered.
Super Handshake: Splitting Lotto Winnings
In June one of them won $22MM, and shocked his friend when he told him that he would honor the 28 year old deal by splitting the pot.
There are too many stories out there of people harming their fellow, it’s nice to be reminded that there are good people out there who stand by their word.
No Clorox Wipes Until Next Year? Just Get DansDeals Alerts!
The company has maxed out production, but demand is far outstripping the supply, perhaps more so than any other household item during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With instant deal notifications, DansDeals pivoted earlier this year from Israel flight deals to in-stock notifications of hard to find items due to coronavirus caused shortages.
My man Dan is keeping me safe and stocked up!
— IlliniJeff (@illini__jeff) August 4, 2020
JUST BOUGHT THREE BUNDLES! https://t.co/ByiPyG1Gaa
— Thad Collins (@ThadCollins) August 5, 2020
Order placed. ✔️ https://t.co/40jKVW7wt7
— Mommy Points (@mommypoints) August 4, 2020
2020 Isn’t All Bad, You Can Now Wear A Personal AC Unit
2 of my 5 brothers now live in Miami. I can’t visit them in the summer as I can’t handle the humidity.
It’s only being sold in Japan for now where it was intended to make a big splash for the Olympics that were supposed to start now. It claims to be able to cool by 23 degrees or warm by 14 degrees.
Am I crazy for wanting to try it out? 😀
Lost Baggage? Here’s Where To Find It…Or Buy Someone Else’s
Airlines lose millions of bags annually. If you charged your ticket on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll make quite a bundle from delayed and lost baggage.
But where does it all go?
They finally joined the interwebs this year so you can search for your lost items as they’re sold to the world.
Well, whose hat is this?
Catch up on what you missed!
- 7/22/20 News Roundup: Israel Flights, COVID-19 Thoughts, Cuomo, AA Adding Flights, JetBlue Ditching Long Beach, Hertz “Improvements”, DOT Complaint, Elon’s Negative Fine, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 6/28/20: New LGA, El Al Bailout, Hong Kong, Credit Card Approvals, Goodbye Qantas 747s, Buried Treasure, And More
- COVID-19 News Roundup 5/25/20: Super-Spreaders, Second Wave, Immunity Passports, El Al In Turkey, Worldwide Restrictions Roundup, Amare Stoudemire, And More
- COVID-19 News Roundup 5/12/20: Distancing On A Plane, De Blasio, OU Kosher PSA, True Number Of Deaths, Murder Hornets, Free Eilat Flights, Goodbye $10,000 Bumps, And More
- COVID-19 News Roundup 4/5/20: Shifting Origin Story, Billionaires Doing Good, Plague Of Wild Animals, Trapped Away From Home, Chicken Soup For The Soul+More
- COVID-19 News Roundup 3/14/20: New Travel Bans, Airline Suspensions, Israel Shutdowns, An Alternate COVID Approach, JetBlue Ban, TSA Changes, Poll, And More
- Sunday News Roundup 3/8/20: Flight Tampering, eBay Bans, Centurion LAX, United Refunds, Airline Bunk Beds, Amazon Grocery Markets, Record Flight Times, And More
- Sunday News Roundup 2/23/20: Flight Denied Entry To Israel, E-PASS Transponder, Venice #Bonvoyed, MLB, Points Scam, Drone Dome, $10K Bump, Cuba Trip, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 2/16/20: New US Airlines, Cruise Quarantines, #Reclinegate, Yiddish Harry Potter, Aeroplan Infant Awards, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 2/2/20: Coronavirus, RIP Kobe, Something Smells At American, Super Bowl Saturday, Stuck In Iran, 15K Lie-Flat Transcon, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 1/19/20: Pilotless Flights, El Al Diversion, Mobile Boarding Passes, MLB Cheating, Handy Credit Card, United Backdoor Link, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 1/5/20: Kosher Thailand Hotel, Mexican Jail Mileage Run, Jeopardy GOAT, Fugitive Ex-Nissan CEO Escape, EgyptAir Coverup, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 12/22/19: #KosherAntarctica Cruise, The Residence, AA Shutdowns, TWA, Amazon Israel, NY Small Claims Change, United Cape Town, Backdoor Marriott Links+More!
- Sunday News Roundup 12/15/19: Jersey City Terror, TLV Hotel, Bonvoyed, Protect Your Ring, Check Your Passwords, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 12/8/19: 8 Quick Takes On Travel; DansDeals Interview, Falklands Tanya, Aegean Devaluation, Travel “Nightmare,” Airline Meals, Near NFL Forfeit, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 11/24/19: 10 Quick Takes On Travel; Phone Charging Scam, AMEX Loves Sapphire, Making Amtrak Great Again, Hyatt Private Island, And More
- Sunday News Roundup 11/17/19: 12 Quick Takes On Aviation And Travel; Dubious Marriott Claims, TWA Ice Rink, A380 Failure, Mileage Ban, And More
- Sunday News Roundup 11/3/19: 9 Quick Takes On What’s Going On In Aviation And Travel; Airbnb Scam, Cathay’s Tel Aviv Plans, United Plays Dirty, 747 Farewell, LAX Uber Disaster, And More
- Sunday News Roundup 10/27/19: 11 Quick Takes On What’s Going On In Aviation, Credit, And Deals That You Should Know About